We were all in one place. We still are.
I don’t know the “right” way to talk about 9/11. I don’t know the right way to pay my respects. It is the shockwave of our lifetime, the event that our generation remembers firsthand. As it becomes more distant in time I watch our efforts to keep it close to us. In my lifetime those efforts will never stop.
Most often friends or social media communities will ask us where we were on 9/11. And I suppose that makes a strong point, to take us mentally back to that day, to put us in cars and offices and classrooms in our minds to once again feel the weight of the event that permanently altered us and our entire society in a matter of minutes. I’m not afraid of returning there in my mind, I’m afraid of all of us no longer being able to.
When I really think about where I was that day, this year I find that those thoughts are different. My individual story doesn’t hold the same significance for me anymore. That day I was afraid of losing something, of losing everything, because the country I knew and trusted and certainly took for granted seemed to be being taken away from me.
But now I feel fear, in a mercifully less violent way, all the time. I’m afraid of losing the country I’ve known and trusted and still taken for granted essentially every day. Every moment of idiocy, every corrupt nomination, every moment a person with authority puts power and greed over the wellbeing of people, I am afraid. I have been afraid every day for nearly two years.
Silence has never been a side effect of my fear, nor is it quieting the fight inside every member of the press, everyone running for office, these actual vikings trying to bring sanity, generosity, and respect into the way our country is governed, and into the way our country is viewed by the world.
Where we were on September 11, 2001 was together. We were a country that, for a time, put aside more differences than we had in ages. We saw right and wrong as one. And what I’ll never understand is why the current threats to our safety, to our health, to our schools, to our women, and to people of color are not met with unity, but with endless, and ever intensifying division. We no longer see right from wrong, we see left from right.
Where I was doesn’t matter. Where we were always will, on this day and on every day in the future that demands perseverance, resilience, and hope. Where was I on 9/11? I was in the United States of America. I was home.